I was involved in project managing a pre-apprenticeship project in Cornwall from Dec 2022 - May 2023 and as part of it I was tasked to write a report ! :) If you fancy a read please see it below:
Penwith Pre-apprenticeship project report 2022/2023 by Anna Pope (Freelance Pre-apprenticeship Project Manager).
This report highlights what happened, any problems encountered and what the positive outcomes were (expected and unexpected).
In 2017 Heritage Crafts undertook an Ernest Cook Trust funded project to pilot a new programme of pre-apprenticeships in countryside crafts in West Somerset.
Three craftspeople were selected to each take on three young people over the course of six weeks to get a taste of what it would be like to have a career in heritage crafts. The project was designed to take the risk factor out of initial encounters between craftspeople who were considering taking on young people, both in terms of the financial risk of taking time away from productive work and the experience of young people crossing the threshold into an unfamiliar environment. The project resulted in one trainee taking on a permanent apprenticeship position, as well as the creation of an advisory document: Getting into heritage crafts: Pre-apprenticeship first contact opportunities for young people and heritage craft businesses.
Heritage Crafts were commissioned by Penwith Landscape Partnership to replicate this programme in Penwith in West Cornwall between December 2022 and May 2023. The three crafts practitioners had already been identified. Coppersmithing, basketry and Cornish hedging.
Heritage Crafts is (registered as The Heritage Crafts Association CIO 1159208).
Jones, G. (2020) Weaving willow. Available at: URL (Available on Instagram page geraldinejonesbaskets. (Accessed 6th June 2023).
Pope, A. (2023) Cornish hedge example. [Photograph].
Crolla, A. The Copper Works Newlyn.[Photograph].
The Copper Works, Newlyn http://thecopperworksnewlyn.com/ first established in 1890, is renowned for creating high quality hand crafted copper work. They were considering taking on a new member to join their small team as an apprentice.
It was agreed at the start that Michael Johnson, the Director/Principal Craftsperson at The Copper Works Newlyn, would train no more than two participants at one time. They were to be taught by Michael and his colleague Adam, a Craftsperson at The Copper Works Newlyn. The training would be spread over a two week period Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm. The dates were February 27th and 28th, March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th 2023. These days and times slotted in well with their usual working week.
What was involved e.g. structure of course:
Michael created a course plan that was very flexible and allowed room for it to be adapted/changed throughout, to suit the participants interests and abilities.
The first day was based on learning some basics about copper, exploring its properties and how they relate to the production process and the requirements of each specific application. He aimed for them to explore various gauges, including the relative strength and ductility of the material.
The remaining days were split between 1:1 guided tutoring and time spent working alongside Michael and Adam on a current Copper Works project, then on to their own self-guided work/exploration.
He aimed for each participant to complete at atleast one item to take away with them.
Anna Pope, the newly appointed Heritage Crafts Freelance Pre-apprenticeship Project Manager, had planned to be present during the first session, to ensure all the necessary paperwork was completed, to record the workshop through photography/video and to ensure that the participants and trainers were settling in well. She also planned to be present at the second to last session, to have a 1:1 mentoring session with each participant, to gather feedback and further digital recordings.
Pope, A. (2023) Some of The Copper Works tools. [Photograph].
We had two strong candidates and one on the waiting list.
The two successful applicants were Samantha from Newquay, Cornwall, age 24 and Kei from St. Ives, Cornwall, age 23. Both applicants had some experience in working with metal, Kei hadn’t worked in copper before and Samantha had used it on a small scale for making jewellery.
Where did they hear about the opportunity:
Samantha - Penwith Landscape Partnership advertisement
Kei - Cultivator Cornwall
Why they applied:
Kei applied as she is an artist who predominantly works with metal and wanted to explore copper as a medium in her work. She also wanted to further develop her metalworking skills. Her long-term goal is to become a university Art Technician, specialising in metal work.
Samantha applied as she has an interest in metal work and in preserving traditional cultural practices. She had worked in copper whilst making jewellery during short courses, however she had felt limited to modern designs and wanted to explore the metal in a different way.
Pope, A. (2023) Kei experimenting at The Copper Works. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha experimenting at The Copper Works. [Photograph].
Both participants had 100% attendance.
Samantha and Kei found the course very positive and they enjoyed the relaxed approach to the course, allowing them to experiment and explore ideas that interested them.
Kei said ‘I enjoyed how the course allowed me to explore exactly what we wanted to make and provided space to make mistakes, experient in order to get to know the tools and materials.’
They completed more than one item, which they took home with them. These included copper bowls, cutlery, a candelabra and a floral wall hanging. They had the opportunity to learn about a live project, which was an elaborate door commission to be embellished with hand-made copper leaves. Samantha and Kei explored making copper leaves, which they incorporated into some of their final pieces.
Samantha -‘I really enjoyed everything I did and would definitely like to explore copper more, perhaps in an apprenticeship or on the job training’.
Pope, A. (2023) Kei and Samantha’s copper bowls. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Kei’s copper cutlery. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha’s floral wall hanging. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Kei’s candelabra. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Samantha’s bowl. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Kei’s candelabra. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Samantha’s floral wall hanging. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Kei’s copper bowl. [Photograph].
During a 1:1 mentoring session with Anna Pope, Kei told her that hearing discussions with clients regarding business consultations and pricing were really interesting and that she would like to explore copper further in her art practice. She was left feeling ‘...confident in my new abilities.’
Kei is planning to continue using her new coppersmithing skills in her art practice.
Michael told Anna Pope that he found the opportunity to pass on skills to young people fulfilling and he believed that the participants had learnt a lot throughout their time there. He found it interesting to witness how they reacted in this environment.
Despite this positive result, The Copper Works didn’t feel that they had found their future apprentice this time, however they have offered both of them the opportunity to come back for advice. They have also asked Samantha to come back for a paid opportunity to work with them for a couple of weeks on a project.
‘She also knows that this is not intended to lead on to further work or an apprenticeship, but we are certainly open to seeing what the future holds for Samantha and TCW.’ (Michael).
Overall Michael felt that the experience was positive, but believes that a few changes could be made in the recruitment process, in order to find potential apprenticeship candidates e.g. involvement in the application process.
‘For the most part I think it was very successful and I would only tinker with the process should we do something similar together again.’ (Michael)
Pope, A. (2023) Michael teaching Samantha. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Michael and Adam conducting an introduction to the workshop with Samantha and Kei. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha and Kei exploring the workshop. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Adam, Samantha, Kei and Michael on day 1. [Photograph].
Geraldine Jones is an established basket maker living in Cornwall https://www.geraldinejones.co.uk/. She has an interest in learning ways in which the next generation of basket makers could be taught the craft.
Basket makers ordinarily learn their skills by attending short courses and become sole traders. The pre-apprenticeship formed a good model for Geraldine to explore a mentoring approach, as opposed to an apprenticeship, which included teaching skills alongside some advice on next steps into setting up a business.
Geraldine was seeking three participants, ideally one from the Kerrier district, another from Penwith and the last from the Isles of Scilly. The training was agreed to be spread over 9 days in total which were 10 am - 4.30pm. The dates were Fri 17th March, Thurs 23rd, Fri 24th, Thurs 30th, Fri 31st, Thurs 6th April, Friday 7th April, Thursday 13th April, Friday 14th April. This allowed time for the participants to reflect/practice and also continue their other life commitments in between sessions.
What was involved e.g. structure of course:
Geraldine created a detailed scheme of work to develop skills and interests in basket weaving which also included business advice and guidance. She planned for practical basket weaving sessions, largely in willow, to be carried out inside her studio at Salt Cellar Workshops in Porthleven, Cornwall http://www.saltcellarworkshops.co.uk/about.html and from her willow garden nearby. This also included learning about growing and harvesting materials, particularly willow.
Pope, A. (2023) Geraldine talking about willow with Arianne and Megan in her willow garden. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Megan, Anna and Arianne weaving inside the Salt Cellar Workshops. [Photograph].
She organised visits, talks and demonstrations with a variety of people working in the craft, to give the participants a good insight into possible avenues for them. These included visits to:
The Makers Emporium, St. Just - https://makersemporium.uk/. A co-operatively run shop for local craft workers.
Higher Keigwin farm https://higherkeigwin.com to see how willows have been integral to the success of reclaiming wild moorland and creating a 8 year rotation coppice willow woodland, to view a hilltop willow maze, to explore managed, ancient willow gardens which are soon to be excavated to ascertain their age and to have a go at grading some of a crop of basket willows.
Basket maker Lin lovekin https://www.linlovekinbaskets.co.uk/ To talk about running a successful basketry business with her daughter who is now her full-time apprentice.
Jones, G. (2023) Participants visiting The Makers Emporium [Photograph].
Jones, G. (2023) Participants visiting Higher Keigwin Farm. [Photograph].
Jones, G. (2023) Lisa talking about her farm. [Photograph].
Jones, G. (2023) Participants visiting Lin Lovekin’s workshop. [Photograph].
Talks, demonstrations and visits from:
Withy pot making with Tom Chambers
Tom demonstrated and taught local withy pot making, a traditional style of lobster / crab pot. They all then tried using one of the techniques called ‘fitching’ to make a plant trainer in green willow.
A talk given by Anna Pope https://www.annapopedesign.co.uk/jewelwithy
The project manager, Anna, was invited to give a talk about another project she is involved in called Jewelwithy, which is inspired by the critically endangered craft of withy pot making in the South West.
Visit from basket maker Hilary Burns https://hilaryburns.com/
Master basket maker, Hilary Burns joined the group in the Salt Cellar Workshops for a day, offering support and advice throughout.
Anna Pope, was scheduled to visit during the first and last sessions to complete paperwork, ensure all partaking were happy, to record the course digitally and run 1:1 mentoring / feedback sessions.
Geraldine also allowed room for any adjustments to be made, depending on the wants/needs of the participants involved.
Pope, A. (2023) Tom Chamber’s withy pots in Geraldine’s willow garden [Photograph].
Jones, G. (2023) Anna Pope giving a talk [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Hilary helping Megan. [Photograph].
We had four strong basketry candidates apply aged between 22-23, who were all from various parts of Cornwall. Sadly after lots of searching, we were unable to find a participant from the Scilly Isles. Despite only looking for three participants, Geraldine agreed that she would be happy to teach all four. The participants had very little experience in basketry.
The successful applicants:
Anna from Truro, Cornwall, age 23. Anna already had skills in weaving with a table loom, however had never tried basketry before. She was also in the early stages of self employment, selling her woven pieces www.albanymonroe.myshopify.com She had some experience in using foraged materials in her weaving. Anna was interested in trying basketry, as she saw similarities in the weaving processes with natural materials she already enjoys. She was also attracted to the addition of business advice in the course.
Molly from Redruth, Cornwall, age 22. She is a horticulturalist with an interest in ‘mycology, and art in reflection of nature.’ She had little experience in basketry, having only attended a one-day basketry course in Dorset in April 2022 so far. Molly was intrigued to learn more basketry after having attended a one day course in 2022. She has a fascination with people using natural materials within craft/art, in particular growing and harvesting the materials to use. She strives to one day earn an income from the items she makes and is considering running workshops too.
Pope, A. (2023) Anna and her willow tray in progress.[Photograph].
Jones, G. (2023) Molly and her completed willow basket. [Photograph].
Megan from Goldsithney, Cornwall, age 22. Megan has a degree in fashion and a small fashion/textile business - Instagram page: mw_by_meg_wagstaffe. She had not tried basket weaving before. Megan has a keen interest in a vast array of crafts and in keeping heritage crafts alive. She was intrigued by the idea of learning basketry and sharing her journey with others to help raise awareness. She would also like to include basketry in the work that she sells to galleries.
Arianne from Feok, Truro, Cornwall, age 22. Arianne was studying a furniture course at West Dean College. She had experience working with wood, however she had only experimented with willow weaving for a short spell recently. She was intrigued by the idea of exploring weaving and the idea of incorporating it with her love of woodwork. She was looking to learn how to become a self employed maker in Cornwall who also becomes part of a community of weavers.
Where did they hear about the opportunity:
Anna - Heritage Crafts instagram post
Molly - Recommended by Geraldine Jones.
Megan - Social media.
Arianne - Word of mouth and then an instagram post by Heritage Crafts.
Jones, G.. (2023) Arianne and her completed willow basket. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Megan weaving a basket. [Photograph]
Attendance from participants was high.
All four participants found the course very positive overall, each of them went away eager to learn more and to develop the skills they had learnt. They had all begun showing their own unique styles.
The structure of the course allowed them time to reflect/practice what they had learnt in between sessions and also continue working for those that were in employment.
They have formed friendships with one another and are in the process of ordering willow together, with the help of Geraldine. Anna has also ordered willow from Lisa Guy.
They are all aiming to earn an income from basketry in some form one-day and find the self employment route appealing.
Geraldine enjoyed designing and facilitating the course and believes there is a lot of scope for this form of training; she has many ideas on how to develop a further course. This would include inviting specialists in particular techniques to lead workshops in Cornwall.
Geraldine and the participants all expressed an interest in continuing to learn together if funding could be secured.'
She would still like to connect with young people from the Isles of Scilly as It is very difficult for school leavers to gain experience in crafts that are no longer practised on the islands. There are currently no practising basket makers, however the number of artists over there is good, giving a young basket maker a support network to become part of.
She has plans to visit the Scillies in October 2023 and has expressed an interest in further networking and possibly running talks and workshops on each island if funding could be secured.
‘Basketmaking doesn't require academic skills and is accessible to all. There are no opportunities to discover or gain experience in this craft on the islands as there are no longer any practising basketmakers ……’ (Geraldine).
Jones, G.(2023) The participants holding up their completed willow pieces inside Geraldine’s willow garden. [Photograph].
Anna said in her feedback that she would ‘definitely look to expand my knowledge and use this as a career expansion.’
‘I just wanted to check in and send you a BIG thank you for making such a wonderful opportunity happen. Creatively, I am feeling so fulfilled, inspired and excited for the future, which I know will be rich and woven with many textures, fibres and skills!’
When Megan was asked if she would like a career in this craft, she answered ‘Yes, I would love to have a career in this alongside my other creative jobs…..Also great amount of set days per week so can work alongside course.’
…I’ve experienced a great introduction to willow weaving and look forward to continuing my journey of weaving different plants.’
Jones, G. (2023) Willow examples. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) A close up of Anna’s willow tray. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Geraldine, Teddy (dog) and the participants on the final day. [Photograph].
Penwith Landscape Partnership had already been working with The Guild of Cornish Hedgers www.cornishhedgers.org.uk to run intermediate training workshops and supporting them to become more self-sufficient as a guild. The guild knew that Cornish hedgers were in short supply, hence putting the heritage craft under threat and as a result were looking for young people to take part in their Lantra training to hopefully one-day become members of the guild and work in the industry. They were also looking for more females to take part.
The aim was for the Guild to have between 6 - 8 young people take part in a 5 day introductory course starting in March / April 2023. There would also be an opportunity for two participants to feed into an intermediate 10 day course.
What was involved e.g. structure of course:
The course was agreed to run one Saturday a week, for 5 consecutive weeks (depending on weather). 9.30am - 4.30pm. 1st April, 8th April, 15th April, 22nd April and 29th April (6th and 13th of May were pencilled in as contingency dates, incase of poor weather etc.).
There were two trainers planned to teach throughout, Helen Bowkett,
Guild of Cornish Hedgers Trainer and Andrew Cockshaw, Chairman of the Guild of Cornish Hedgers and trainer, who were Enhanced DBS checked in case there were any participants under 18 taking part. There was also a small list of other trainers, who were all DBS checked and on call incase of any absences.
‘On this short introductory course, you will learn the basic handling of stone and use of the necessary tools, the hedging hammer and the long-handled Cornish shovel, to build a Cornish Hedge. You will be shown how to prepare a hedge ready for repair, and how to sort and select stone for building. You will start to understand how to use your eye to select the right shape of stone to fit into the row, and how to place the stones in accordance with the existing hedge and consolidate the fill. Finally, you will top off a section of hedge with earth and turf for a neat, secure and wildlife-friendly finish. Having completed the course, you will be able to practise and improve your new skills in your own time. ‘(https://www.lantra.co.uk/product/35035)
For more information on the course content please follow the above link.
Anna Pope was scheduled to visit during the first and last sessions to ensure that relevant paperwork was completed, the participants and trainers were happy, to record the course through photography and video and run 1:1 mentoring / feedback sessions.
We received over the required amount of applications for this course and as a result had a waiting list. Some of the applicants could not attend in the end, due to employment and personal reasons and as a result we had 5 participants aged between 15 - 24 take part in the end:
Amy from Hayle, Cornwall, age 18. She was a college student who aspired to become a Landscape Architect. She had already attended a couple of taster sessions before with the Penwith Landscape Partnership and expressed an interest in qualifying as a Cornish hedger and working
as a hedger in her day to day living.
Pope, A. (2023) Amy. [Photograph].
Cameron from St just, Penzance, Cornwall, age 20. He had experience of farm work with his grandad, but little experience in Cornish hedging. He expressed an interest in learning Cornish hedging to one day earn an income from it.
Pope, A. (2023) Cameron.. [Photograph].
Sam from St Ives, Cornwall, age 24. He was unemployed, but slowly building a small business as a beekeeper. He had not tried Cornish hedging before, but was interested in working in this craft to earn an income and also help sustain the natural habitat for bees.
Pope, A. (2023) Sam. [Photograph].
Elijah from Ludgvan, Penzance, Cornwall, age 20. He was studying Sustainable Product Design at University, but taking a break. He has an appreciation of nature and craftsmanship and was intrigued to try Cornish hedging which offered him an opportunity to explore these better.
Pope, A. (2023) Elijah. [Photograph].
Logan from Redruth, Cornwall, age 15. He had a very strong application, but due to his age he was put on the waiting list, in case a space became available, which it did. He had an interest in restoration, the outdoors and he would like to be able to repair Cornish hedges on his family farm. He was looking to become a Horticulture apprentice and believed Cornish hedging skills would increase his chances of gaining work. He also expressed an interest in this skill, giving him an opportunity to bring something of his own to his family business, if he decided to carry it on.
Pope, A. (2023) Logan with Helen and Andrew. [Photograph].
Where did they hear about the opportunity:
Amy - Penwith Landscape partnership
Cameron - Penwith Landscape Partnership
Sam - Bosavern Community farm
Elijah - Word of mouth
Logan - Facebook.
All 5 participants had a very positive experience on the course, they bonded really well as a group and wanted to further their training with the Guild. Elijah and Sam were both enrolled onto the 10 day course supported by Penwith Landscape partnership, beginning in the middle of May 2023 and the other 3 have been put on waiting lists for future courses in late 2023 directly through the Guild.
Time capsule activity - The trainers organised for the participants loved ones to visit the site during the end of the last of the 5 day course, to witness the laying of the first turf on the top of the hedge ‘........as this special group of young trainees and future Guild craftspeople will be the first to reach the summit of our hedge!’ (Helen). This also included a surprise for both participants and loved ones, who were entertained by a bagpipe player.
Business support for young people. Helen and Andrew have signposted those participants who are eligible to Prince’s Trust. Further business support will begin during the 10 day Lantra Intermediate Certificate in Cornish hedging.
A couple of participants required some extra support, partly due to learning difficulties, which was taken seriously and acted upon sensitively by the tutors, who also offered additional opportunities to catch up. Helen explained that this experience has helped them understand the importance of supporting the needs of everyone and they are looking into potential training to better understand learning disabilities and mental health.
Bowkett, H. (2023) The completed section of Cornish hedge. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) The participants being introduced to the bagpipe player. [Photograph].
‘……thank you for the opportunity. I really want to do this as my future career.’
‘Overall, it’s been a fantastic 5 weeks. Couldn’t have had a better group and instructors.’
‘Thank you so much for this opportunity and the superb teaching.’
When asked the question What impact has this course had on your relationship with Cornish hedging? He answered ‘Something new that I’d like to take up in the future.’
'I would also like to say a big thank you to you , Helen and Andrew for making Logan welcome and supporting him through his learning as he was worried being the youngest pupil. It has even further ignited his passion for restoration. ‘
‘It is such a pleasure to teach this group..thank you for finding them for us! We sincerely believe these fantastic young people are the future of the Guild…’
'I was amazed by their attention to detail and commitment to doing things in the meticulous manner needed to do our craft the justice it deserves.'
Pope, A. (2023) Participants and trainers day 1. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Tools and granite. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Participants and trainers on the final day with their section of Cornish hedge, [Photograph].
Overall thoughts from Anna Pope:
Overall I believe that the outcomes were very positive. We began with a larger volume of interest than expected and as a result decided that an application process would be necessary; proving that young people are interested in pursuing a career in Heritage Crafts.
In promotional material we only added my email address for potential applicants to contact, which allowed me the opportunity to send a little extra information before arranging a short phone call to discuss further if they wished. I found this process helpful as it allowed for an informal discussion to:
Understand the reason for their interest.
Answer any questions they may have.
Explain in a little more detail about the opportunities and what the next steps will be.
Become a contact they can feel at ease in approaching throughout the process. (I believe it also helped to know that I will be there during their first sessions if they were successful).
In hindsight it would have been helpful to have more information confirmed regarding each course to provide interested people with e.g. dates and course content
but at this stage we did not have these details for various reasons. There were some benefits to this however, as dates could be arranged to suit successful applicants.
The term pre-apprenticeship caused some confusion at times and perhaps this could be revised for future projects.
I was appointed the role of Project Manager after discussions had been made with trainers regarding the project and I feel that an in depth meeting with them at the beginning to understand their aims and objectives would have been really beneficial.
Communication with trainers and young people during the recruitment process was limited at times, as it coincided with Christmas and long periods after that when some of the contacts were away.
We did not manage to find all the targeted participants e.g. young people from the Scilly Isles and a potential apprentice. I believe that further networking with schools would help in this area.
Feedback told us that having trainers involved in the selection of participants should be added to part of the process for future projects, such as this.
We did however have participants who were engaged, enthusiastic, hard working and all expressed an interest in learning more about the crafts they were involved in. The work the participants produced was of good quality, strong friendships were formed and a small community is beginning to grow.
A large proportion of this project's successes are down to the trainers, who did an exceptional job at creating plans, liaising with myself, factoring in the needs of participants, going above and beyond their roles (e.g. time capsule activity and providing catch up sessions) and facilitating the courses, which the feedback from participants clearly shows.
For future courses I believe it would be beneficial to have an aftercare package in place e.g. a follow up 1:1 mentoring session and an official feedback session with the craft trainers.
To celebrate the successes of the project we have organised an ‘end of project celebration’, where participants, loved ones, trainers and staff can all get together to share their experiences and to provide an opportunity to award participants with Heritage Crafts certificates.
I feel very privileged to have been involved in this project and will look back on it with fond memories. Thank you to everyone involved and I wish you all the greatest success in your crafts.
Colgan, S. (2023) Some of the group involved in the project outside the Museum of Cornish Life duering the 'End of project celebration'. [Photograph].